Who are Scotland's top 10 digital disruptors?

Leah Hutcheon of Appointedd. PIC Chris Watt.Leah Hutcheon of Appointedd. PIC Chris Watt.
Leah Hutcheon of Appointedd. PIC Chris Watt.

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Craig McGill of PwC looks at the Scots who have rewritten the rules - and are changing the way we work, live and play

Digital disruption is an ongoing process. What was innovative ten years ago is mainstream now. And just as disruption is ongoing, so are the original disruptors continuously being disrupted by new names and faces.

Mashable’s Pete Cashmore, Nokia and Microsoft’s Craig Hepburn were amongst the first digital pioneers. The teams at Codebase, SkyScanner and FanDuel are currently causing waves.

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The influence of Scots isn’t even limited to this country – look at John Giannandrea, Google’s Head of Search originally from Bridge of Allan.

Ali McGill of Ashton McGill. PIC Contributed.Ali McGill of Ashton McGill. PIC Contributed.
Ali McGill of Ashton McGill. PIC Contributed.

Ongoing disruption is everywhere now, including financial and professional services firms.

PwC in Scotland has hired technology expert Douglas Shand to head up an innovation team and has considerable, well-establised cybersecurity and blockchain teams based around Scotland, but who else is out there just now, bubbling under the public’s consciousness but making waves and disrupting for the better?

Leah Hutcheon, CEO Appointedd

A cloud based online booking and business management piece of software may not sound disruptive but Leah Hutcheon’s tool has recently shown how businesses can scale in the modern era, having been signed up by National Australia Bank and offered to all its clients.

Maurizio Sciglio, CEO of Cloudgine. PIC Contributed.Maurizio Sciglio, CEO of Cloudgine. PIC Contributed.
Maurizio Sciglio, CEO of Cloudgine. PIC Contributed.

Ali McGill, Ashton McGill

Disrupting the country in a different way. Ali has been continuously at the forefront of new trends and working practices and currently preaches about service design thinking as part of customer interaction at major events across the globe. His impact in firms is changing customer approach methodologies with PLCs, universities, banks and charities amongst his converts.

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Jim Hamill, management consultant and lecturer

Jim Hamill, management consultant and lecturer. PIC You Tube.Jim Hamill, management consultant and lecturer. PIC You Tube.
Jim Hamill, management consultant and lecturer. PIC You Tube.

Education is not normally seen as an innovative space, but there’s been a lot of progressive moves in recent months with the likes of ex-teacher Ewan McIntosh and his firm NoTosh and Edinburgh-based Administrate but at an even more fundamental disruptive level has been the efforts of Jim Hamill. Jim has pushed to advocate more adoption of digital practice, including agile methodologies, amongst undergraduate students and MBAs, not just helping to grow the next generation of disruptors but ensue that their staffs and C Suite are able to keep up, integrating digital into all aspects of businesses.

Sharon Moore, Scotland Women in Tech

Sharon Moore has been one of Scotland’s leading proponents of digital adoption, combining a consulting day job with ongoing talks and networking for the Scotland Women in Tech organisation and the Digital Leaders Scotland initiative. Like some others on this list, her disruption comes from not one project or activity but in the number of people she connects with, inspires and helps to do business in new and transformative ways.

Maurizio Sciglio, Cloudgine

Liz McGettigan of SOLUS.  PIC Contributed.Liz McGettigan of SOLUS.  PIC Contributed.
Liz McGettigan of SOLUS. PIC Contributed.

Scotland has had a great tradition of disruption in the gaming sector from the early days of Lemmings and DMA Design through to Rockstar, Chris van der Kuyl and Outplay Entertainment.

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Maurizio and his team at Cloudgine are taking innovation in a different way, not with software but in allowing console games to tap into cloud computing so games look better and are more impressive.

Microsoft are already demo’ing the tech in the Crackdown 3 game and being praised for the results. Looking beyond gaming, the potential here is limitless.

Morna Simpson, Girl Geek

Wherever there is a digital opportunity, Morna is often at the forefront. As the founder of Girl Geeks in Scotland, she has been up there with the likes of Sally Dyson at SCVO in pushing digital inclusion and opportunities to all of Scotland. Currently working with fellow pioneer and disruptor Sarah Morgan on transforming light at a company called Nano-Lit, which some are touting as a potential Unicorn of the future.

Gavin McCutcheon - founder of Dot Scot. PIC Contributed.Gavin McCutcheon - founder of Dot Scot. PIC Contributed.
Gavin McCutcheon - founder of Dot Scot. PIC Contributed.

Andy Campbell, Elevator

Elevator started out as an Aberdeen and North-east initiative but word has spread south and now more and more people from elsewhere in Scotland are beating a path to their door for help with all forms of entrepreneurial issues. As with Codebase, the full impact of what Andy Campbell and his colleague Gary McEwan have been achieving with companies is yet to be realised but over the coming years, there will be more and more mention of Elevator success stories impacting across society.

Liz McGettigan, SOLUS

An ex-librarian may seem like a strange choice but Liz is constantly pushing organisations forward, not only with a digital mindset but also making sure social inclusion plays a key role in the transformation process. Disruptive but also one of the most digitally strategic minds in the country.

Gavin McCutcheon, Dot Scot

Gavin is transforming the digital landscape in Scotland in a different way. He raised the funds and campaigned tirelessly for Scotland to have its own domain name, allowing people to use .scot instead of a .com. While many were cynical when it launched at the height of the Indyref campaign, Gavin has continued to champion the cause, making the organisation behind it a non-profit, and seen growing use of the domain while many other geo domains have faltered.

Martyn Wallace, Local Government Digital Office

Martyn may end up being the most disruptive person of all on this list. He has just been announced as the Chief Digital Officer for 27 Scottish councils, working together under the title of the Local Government Digital Office, which is chaired by Lorraine McMillan, Chief Executive of East Renfrewshire Council. The aim of the role and the office are to innovate the country’s IT offering, ensuring Scottish citizens have a pleasant, ease of use experience when digitally interacting with the councils. For many who currently struggle with online engagement and dealing with their local authority, that may be the most pleasantly disruptive experience of all.


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